Although the show offers more than 200 exhibitors putting their products forward in the conventional manner, there is also an interesting series of seminars and theatre presentations of practical use to any hospitality business working seriously on its beverages. Among these are talks on the value of chocolate to the hot beverage market; on the fraught question of why tea is often so poorly served; and on how and why milk, when badly prepared by staff, can ruin the greatest coffee.
Ian Boughton previews some highlights.
Caffe Culture Show
15-16 May 2013
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One of the most unexpected new coffee brands celebrates a musical legend. Marley coffee finds the singer Bob Marley's son fulfilling his father's wish to return to coffee farming in Jamaica. The brand has both serious and light-hearted aspects: on the one hand, each blend is named after a Bob Marley song, while the farm devotes itself to the Rastafarian standard of "I-tal", which roughly means "all things pure, true and vital". The coffee is distinguished by its richness and sweetness of taste.
The British arm of the company gives part of its profits to a foundation that aims to enrich the lives of children of coffee-producing communities through sport. It also works to help disadvantaged people here into employment through barista work.
BEYOND THE BEAN Beyond the Bean sources and inspires many new ideas. An intriguing arrival this year is the "stealth blender" from the Blendtec brand. Certain elements of the atmosphere of a café-bar, such as the rattle of the grinder, the hiss of the espresso machine and the whirr of the blender, are simply not welcome in a more genteel setting. So Beyond the Bean will be showing "the quietest blender yet".
A notable new addition to Beyond the Bean's range is the Anzac biscuit, dating from the First World War and originally made for Australian and New Zealand troops. Today, permission has to be sought for it to be produced for commercial and hospitality use.
An important, but still under-recognised, product in the hot drinks sector is chocolate and, under its Zuma brand, Beyond the Bean will be showing its first white hot chocolate powder. Beverage operators have been enquiring about the possibility of such a drink, and the company will be showing how to combine it with unexpected flavours.
A unexpected name in coffee will be on show from Regency Coffee. When the MÁ¶venpick ice-cream family intermarried with the Darboven coffee family it began to take an interest in coffee, and the brand is now better known for its coffee in many parts of the world.
The Darbovens are known for a unique process of steaming green coffee beans to produce a "stomach-friendly" coffee. It is reported that many who say they can't drink coffee can enjoy this brand.
The Regency Coffee stand will also see the return to the UK of one of the most famous hot chocolate and frappé mix names, Ghirardelli of California.
A messy problem with espresso is cleaning the spent grounds from the portafilter basket after each shot. Bonzer has created a kind of whirring brush which does the job silently and without risk of damaging the filter.
LONDON BIO PACKAGING
The latest idea in eco-friendly disposable packaging is the palm leaf, of which 60 billion fall naturally to the ground each year in India. The resulting tableware is compostable, microwaveable, can be used in the oven and will hold liquids. No chemical or resin is involved.
Orchard founder and promoter of "posh pop" Claire Martinsen will be revealing her "10 top ways to drive cold drink sales this summer".
Competition is fierce in fully automatic espresso machines for the wider catering trade, and Sielaff has taken the challenging route of exploring how much it can do in a small footprint. It is launching the Ultima Duo, which offers an optional pour-over filter brewer in addition to espresso brewing.
HANDMADE CAKE COMPANY This is one of the UK's most idiosyncratic catering bakeries, whose name alone allows some caterers to take more credit for bought-in items than they might deserve. Handmade recently brought out the most eyeâ'catching new cake in the hospitality sector - it's red.
CAPITAL COFFEE ROASTERS
The futuristic Contravento, by ECM, was conceived as a high-end domestic machine until Capital of Wimbledon saw it and realised how well it fits the style requirements of the hip end of the coffee business. The one on show this year will probably be the prototype.
ETEAKET This Scottish company is playing its part in the trend for new kinds of tea bags, allowing for larger portions of the filling, and claiming "blends that are far more exciting than anything else out there". Typical is Blooming Marvellous, a green tea with fruit, rose buds, sunflower petals and vanilla. Eteaket won a national Best Tea award last year.
DA VINCI GOURMET
The use of flavoured syrups continues to grow as beverage operators use them not just in lattes, but in long soft drinks with sparkling water, or hot chocolates, or even in smoothies. DaVinci Gourmet will show just how far the opportunities have developed from the simple flavoured latte, and what happens if you use such combinations as orange and chocolate.